Meet foster parents Linda and Derek from FCA Midlands
Having fostered for a number of years prior to joining FCA Linda 71 and Derek 70, show no signs of slowing down now nor in the future and remain as committed and dedicated to providing positive outcomes for children as the day they first started.
This year they celebrate an astonishing 25 years fostering with FCA. Here they look back over their momentous fostering journey.
It was coming up to Christmas in 1984 that Linda first thought about fostering and how she and Derek would like to give a child a magical Christmas to remember. In August 1986 they became approved foster parents and after 12 years fostering elsewhere they decided to make the move to join FCA and the rest is history.
Linda and Derek have fostered siblings and had long term placements. Their first sibling group when they joined FCA was three girls who at the time were two, four and six years old. They lived with Linda and Derek for two years. Whilst their upbringing was difficult, it was recommended the siblings be separated due to complex needs and to benefit their wellbeing. Linda recalls milestone moments about the youngest sibling where she went from being withdrawn and disengaged to being able to talk, read, became toilet trained and happily giggling enjoying a party she attended. Ultimately she went on to be adopted when she was five years old and Linda remembers the final night “she was so scared she followed me upstairs that final night and I gave her a teddy bear to remember us by but also to help comfort and give her reassurance. I spent the whole night with her. The middle sibling also went on to be adopted at seven and the eldest sibling went into long term foster care. Whilst it was difficult to say goodbye to all the children we knew it was the best outcome for them all”.
Linda said “we loved the early years with FCA it was amazing, they were the only agency we knew about at the time. Social workers and therapists got to know the children too and were really involved. I like fostering to challenge me and to teach me something new, whether that be children with complex behaviours, additional needs or autism but we learn from them too”.
Linda goes on to tell us “for us it has also been about giving children new experiences and memories their first time on an aeroplane, first time in the sea, first time seeing Santa, their first proper Christmas and we love celebrating Christmas, we really go to town”.
“We also had two 16-year-olds placed with us, one had special needs the other autism the boys had a good rapport with each other and it worked well. We are still in touch years later with one of the boys, who is now a young man and is 20 years old, he his own child who we are grandparents to. He and his son have taken our last name. We speak two–three times a week and see each other often he is very much a part of the family”.
The ex-foster son told us “Linda and Derek are life changing. I am a completely different person today because of them they made me who I am today and they are incredibly special to me”.
Of course so much has changed over the past 25 years Linda says “there were no social media or internet safety issues when we first started fostering. It has been really important for us to keep up to date with everything and the training provided has been a huge factor in helping make that happen. It keeps us current and some of the subject areas are very interesting such as substance misuse. I really enjoy the training and one year I did 26 online courses. We have always attended the training and support groups provided by FCA the more you know the more experience you have. Our social worker is also fantastic she is caring, supportive, keeps in touch she knows me and is wonderful”.
To conclude Linda said “I thoroughly enjoy fostering I just can’t imagine doing anything else. I know this job inside out and I love it! We see the positive in all children who come to us, we give every child a fresh start and we tell them it is up to them what they do with it. All children are welcome just come inside… Our advice to anyone thinking or new to fostering do the training, attend support groups and see things from the child’s perspective”.
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